Astros: Examining the current baseball landscape this offseason
Boston Red Sox
Fresh off a World Series title, the Red Sox finds themselves in a great position to compete next season. There is little reason to expect much of a drop-off from this year’s 108-win squad. As the Astros proved this year, though, it is incredibly difficult to repeat. Questions about how well Chris Sale holds up an entire season will inevitably be asked. Look for more roster refinement than any massive changes, although ownership has the deep pocketbooks to sign a significant free agent if the mood strikes them. The free agency of Craig Kimbrel, Steve Pearce, and Nathan Eovaldi are something to watch.
New York Yankees
A 100-win season is nothing to sneeze at in baseball. Unfortunately for the Yankees, they ran into the buzz saw known as the Red Sox in this year’s ALDS. Look for general manager Brian Cashman to make some moves to help New York stay close to Boston in the standings. You can’t talk about the Yankees’ offseason plans without bringing up Bryce Harper and Manny Machado. Even without those two stars, Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton is a heck of a foundation for a lineup. Also, they could be in the market for another starting pitcher. As much as it pains me to type this sentence, Dallas Keuchel could be an option as New York looks to move on from Sonny Gray. Free-agent Patrick Corbin is another option along with Corey Kluber if the Indians decide to trade.
Tampa Bay Rays
If it wasn’t for a terrible 4-13 start, the 90-win Rays may have been a viable threat to the A’s for the second AL Wild Card spot down the stretch. Acquiring Tommy Pham in-season from the Cardinals was a strong move by a team not expected to have the season it did. Injuries to the pitching staff didn’t do themselves any favors. There is a bit of money to spend down in Tampa but look for more under-the-radar moves than anything else. If a few young pitchers (Brent Honeywell, Jose De Leon) return from the DL as 2019 progresses, this team could be a factor in the Wild Card race.
Toronto Blue Jays
A new manager with plenty of new faces on the way. The favorite storyline for the Blue Jays will be the eventual debut of Vladimir Guerrero Jr. in 2019. He should’ve made his debut this past season, but service time manipulation will remain steadfast in baseball until the CBA addresses it. Like this past trade deadline, Toronto could be sellers once again in another likely rebuilding year. That said, Toronto does have plenty of young talent in the minors, so they could be a club to watch in 2020 and 2021.
Not only did the Orioles pay Chris Davis $17 million in base salary for a .168/.243/.296 slash line over 522 plate appearances, they also had the worst record (47-115) in baseball by far. The $42 million of deferred money owed Davis following his contract’s conclusion doesn’t help matters. Stuck in the always-competitive AL East with the Red Sox and Yankees, Baltimore has a massive mountain to climb. If there is a silver lining, the Orioles do seem to realize that a rebuild is warranted.